Monday, October 8, 2018

Back door


I let him in
Through the back door

He alone
Holds the password.

Seldom knocks
But often enough;

Through the tiny peephole
Of the unresolved,

I take the chain
Off the door.


I keep my skirt
While he unbuttons my heart

That door policy is rough
But he earns my trust;

That love hurts
'Til the gentle push.

Unlock
The secrets to my core;

The fissure 
Of pleasure

For a full-frontal
Of my soul.


He sneaks
In the back door

Only he knows
The password;

No one is welcome
But one.




Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wasted time

Late at night, long after the daily television program goes to bed, and nocturnal people such as myself should have done the same; most channels will usually fill the wee hours with either some musty soft porn, reruns, a classical concert or –– my favourite guilty pleasure –– a string of infomercials. I am not quite certain why I (like to) feast on them. It is not like I ever buy anything. I do not own a garden for that highly-efficient, easy-to-maneuver lawn mower 3000. I do not have to feed five people in my household in order for that multi-functional, labor-saving instant pot to be worth the purchase. I am still working on my six-pack –– granted that I have made the experience that getting (and eventually keeping) one requires much more than a only-in-a-few-weeks, practically-no-effort-needed machine. Given the fact that I can spend hours on end watching, all things considered, my fascination with infomercials is completely disproportional to how little I buy. Notwithstanding, like a fly, I have positive phototaxis –– glued to their blinking appeal as soon as they appear on the small screen.

The Netflix era downsized my consumption of infomercials, although I still happily get sight of them on the occasional lazy Sunday morning. Now you must be wondering, if I am not interested in acquiring something, more importantly, I am not one that is easily convinced (always well aware that the extra discounted offer only stands if I call in the next 90 seconds); then why would I invest so many nights or mornings on USPs being repeated nth times? Why do I not change the channel, better yet, do something productive, lucrative, important instead? Many wonder, is it not a waste of time? Admittedly, you would say that getting a kick out of it could be the perfume of procrastination or rather, the fair manifestation of idle behaviour; however, I never succumbed to that reasoning. Long have I thought this through, only to come to the conclusion that I simply enjoy this slot of the day tremendously; therefore making it in turn, valuable to me. Advertorials are light-hearted, stimulating and entertaining. Why must I feel bad –– even ashamed? Then I recalled, as Bertrand Russell underlines quite well, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” 

Of course, we will distinguish between appreciating wasted time and actually wasting it –– and abhor it. To the point of cringing. The apprehension is universal: I could have studied earlier instead of delaying the inevitable, I let that relationship ruin my youthI should have set some money aside from the beginning, hell, why did I not quit that job, that guy, that place long ago? Naturally, the assessment of having lost precious, valuable moments generally comes after all has been said and done already. In hindsight. We have all felt this contempt in one, or a few, situations. For wasted days, months or even years mean loss. Result in regret. And acknowledging –– accepting the impossibility to turn back the clock. The bizarre thing is that once we get older, the fear of wasting time turns its head to the future from the onset. In anticipation. More cautious, definitely less carefree, plagued –– rather, driven by past choices and decisions; we grow so prudent, almost too prudent, on how we want to spend the rest of our lives. In other words, wisely. Thus becoming, for instance, reluctant to open up to a new person even before it has the opportunity to blossom. If there seems to be no prospect or beneficial outcome (not the one we desire, at least), is it worth trying? Or we will only change jobs when we have the certainty that the next one will be more fruitful. Yet, can we ever be sure? The older we get, the less and less it becomes about taking enough chances, but choosing the right ones. Are we living our best life yet?

During the summer, I had an eye-opening conversation with a longtime friend about the younger days. He confessed how he wished he wasted less time when he had more of it.  Nowadays, responsibilities, projects and future aspirations fill in the gaps which, undoubtedly, give life more purpose; but my pal truly believed that he could have started with the meaningful much earlier. His comment sent my mind back to my odd interest in infomercials. I suppose, in a way, society's standards define what is considered worthwhileour twenties should be spent doing this, we should have achieved that by the age of thirty-five, the bucket list must be about 3/4 done at this stage... However, let us imagine that it were not the case –– and perhaps it never will come to that –– does that imply that we did not use our (younger) years the correct way? My friend identified my smirk. Maybe, I responded, maybe wasting time is part of it –– better yet, perhaps it is even the best part; because without the concept of the clock ruling our lives, as it does today, we had the world at our feet, I paused, don't we still?  

We can all agree that time has the highest currency. Nevertheless, I reckon many of us should stop dealing with it as if it were possible to earn, save or invest in it as if it were actual income –– time is really the one thing that we have to exhaustWiselyby all means, but profusely. Let us make the best of our potential; nonetheless, we will not undermine the value of the times we waste they model us too, those we abhor, especially those we enjoy, especially when we are aware that we enjoyed them. I am not pushing for a free pass to procrastinate, wallow in lazy behaviour –– or justify bad decisions; but matter of fact is that foolish days, months and years do not make our stories less worthy.

Enjoy. The highs. The lowest of the lows. Enjoy the night. The confusion. That view from the top. The in-betweens. Enjoy that afternoon on the sofa. Enjoy the detours. Enjoy it all. Every now and then, I smile at the glimpse of playing children, who I know, are unreservedly oblivious to the notion of the clock; and I am sure, are the only ones who are truthfully capable of taking each day as it comes. Because the past is still too young to dwell on and the idea of a future is not in the slightest comprehensible (despite the fact that teachers already inquire what they want to become when they grow up.) The second we get conscious about ageing and limitations is the point of no return; where we put a price tag on our being i.e timeline — and it is hard not to act accordingly. Then again, this statement, in fact,  is why we should act accordingly. We cannot control time, but it should not control us either. Enjoy. I hope you enjoy it all, because we can not ever regret people if, at one point, they made us laugh and smile. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves when we do not have things figured out –– or even live all our years figuring them out –– I both grapple and embrace that fundamentally, who we are supposed to be is who we are right now. The masterpiece is living as a work in progress. Most importantly, we shall not let the dread of making yet another mistake steer the way we lead our lives. Take that chance –– and if it was the wrong one, take another one. In the end, a life of purpose is the life we enjoy(ed), because it will not come down to the story that we want to tell – but the one we do tell. Time may indeed have the highest currency in the world, but we alone define its value.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Poetic muse


Writing. The one(s) I adore. Life.


Last Saturday in Amsterdam, I conveyed my love of the pen, of people and ultimately, my unadulterated passion for life to the sweetest, most attentive and rapt audience any performer could wish for. 
I was that lucky. They raised the roof for my poetry.

© OFF STAGE AMSTERDAM

At the beginning of July, I got the invitation to get off stage in Amsterdam. Basically, OFF STAGE is a "performance event that provides an alternative space for developing artists. The performers are invited to present their newest work to an open-minded audience. [They] bring the performances off stage in unconventional and intimate spaces that foster a creative camaraderie between artists and audience members – all while maintaining formal and professional standards of production." They were already preparing for their ninth edition; and so without hesitating for a second, I said yes. September 15th, 2018. 20h30. In the most refreshing of unusual venues: De Vondelbunker. Originally built as a nuclear shelter in the 1940s, this dainty little gem hidden under a bridge in Amsterdam's Vondelpark now serves as an underground cultural space for concerts, art exhibits or events such as OFF STAGE. A night of creative arts with "the same gezellig vibes" as in their previous gigs was promised; and for this first timer, the evening clearly delivered. It was the right podium for me. 

2018 has been quite a magnificent year for my poetry. Only to name a few examples, back in January, EUROPSPORT UK borrowed my love letter to Berlin, my home away from home, in order to introduce the Snooker German Masters 2018. The 'promo' video was orchestrated in such a slick manner that I still kid that Colin Murray, the Northern Irish sports and music radio and television presenter who recited it, reads my own poetry better than I ever could. It blew me away. Samya Arif, a New York Times featured artist, illustrator and designer, also quoted “BERLIN” on her Instagram. She said that it captured her feelings about this unrivaled city. The Belgian company Vespacruz used my piece “Freedom” to endorse its rental services. From the start, I suspected that liberating ride on his red Vespa would go the distance. Literally, as it seems. Another case to back up my claim is Bulgarian photographer Aleksandrina Kovacheva, who was inspired by my poem “The nomad” for the introduction of her blog. And every time I published new material, hellopoetry.com, one of the largest poetry platforms around, was always eager to feature my work. I am not only honoured when my words manage to leave my nest and spread their wings across this vast digital jungle; but more than anything, sharing or citing them is for me the nucleus of unalloyed joy.

Sure enough, my poetry acquired a lot of exposure via various medias and projects these past months; yet the cherry on this mouth-watering cake was of course the opportunity to expose them in front of a live audience. Mark my words: writing in a notebook and publishing it online afterwards is another animal compared to reading for a crowd. A whole other game plan. My point is that you could be the best musician, DJ or poet in the universe; the art of performing is still a skill on its own –– a skill I am positive I do not master entirely. Although I have emceed at events, read in church and made presentations on countless occasions, as a result, making me fairly at ease with public speaking; I have to admit that I was entering an intimidating territory: in pre-production, the idea of divulging my own creations in the flesh brought out extreme jitters. Writing poems is my comfort zone, reciting them would kick me out of it. After all, I would be baring my soul.  Getting off stage may not have been my first time reciting my poetry, however, it was my biggest (off) stage to date, my first time traveling for a performance, moreover, it was by far the longest time slot I ever had at my disposal. Thus, while I was assembling notes for Amsterdam (naturally, last minute), I struggled between the need to (over) prepare and the desire to improvise. Eventually, in lieu of letting the nervousness get the best of me, I spent it to fuel me. I convinced myself that I was there to have fun. What happened, then, was magic. 

sound check
This is what happiness feels and looks like

I was the opening act. On D-day, my heart began to pounce hard again, but an hour and a half leading up to my gig, my brother Christian and his girlfriend Peggy managed to take the countdown factor to such a happy place. I was already having a remarkable time in Amsterdam with my parents, to top it all, they decided to surprise me by showing up at the restaurant my mother reserved (which, I discovered later on, she could not have done. I should have known.) I was ecstatic. Upon arriving at Vondelbunker, my longtime friend Josip, who with his wonderful team, is my mastermind behind OFF STAGE, welcomed me and my family with open arms. 


© OFF STAGE AMSTERDAM

Vondelbunker

Finally, engrossed in the thrill of the moment and slightly blinded by the spotlight, I held the microphone with confidence (and excitement), stood tall and had the time of my life. Everything –– everyone was in sync during my three 'acts' just shy of twenty minutes. I was there to have fun. And I did –– so much that Saturday, September 15, 2018 will go down as one of the best days in my book. Above all, being part of something that showcases the science of creativity –– that intrinsic need to create, which I undoubtedly have in common with the spectacular artists that got off stage as well, is a special privilege. I am proud beyond words.

Best of my worlds at Vondelbunker
From Cavite and Zurich, in Amsterdam, with love

Truth be told, I never deemed to be the type that does poetry readings. Before, my so-called 'only' interaction with a third party, in the strict sense, was to write –– and you read.  It was enough. Nevertheless, to have experienced this 'live' dialogue with my readers gave the nucleus of unalloyed joy a brand new spin. I am enamoured. 

A close friend once asked me where I get my inspiration. Who is your muse? This curiosity spurred by the idea that a number of my poems have at times a sad tone to them: Are you okay? Do you need me to call you?  Well, I retorted, not necessarily. Of course it goes without saying that any creation is, in a way, autobiographical –– an extension of oneself: I am the one holding the pen after all. That being said, this observation justifies one of the prime reasons as to why a blank page is my go-to accessory: writing allows me to travel and convert anything –– devastating or exultant, banal or essential, be it invented, my own or influenced by someone else’s story, ideas or feelings –– anything really, I will convert it into my personal vision on a page. Word for word, I can pin an instant on the map, I can rewrite the narrative, imagine it, revisit or completely reinterpret it. I am free to disinvite my +1 on paper. My professors at University never failed to remind me: do not confuse an author's biography with their piece. All I know is that the wont to create goads me, but I firmly let my creation speak for itself; because once I seal the deal, my words somewhat do not belong to me anymore. They float around until someone reads them and makes them theirs. 

For the promotion of the event, OFF STAGE’s description of me indicated that I am "a traveler of the world who finds love wherever she goes." I do. I do find the ardent love to write, a deep appreciation for people and ultimately, my unadulterated passion for life anywhere I go. TRUE LOVE is my poetic muse and as the chief "Into the wild" (2007) quote beckons, "happiness is only real when shared." Thank you OFF STAGE AMSTERDAM for letting me share what I love the most in the world with you! I lived a dream. Dank u wel!


Watch my poetry reading: